Sunday, February 27, 2005

The Oscars

Well! I finally saw "Million Dollar Baby" yesterday (Saturday), just in time for the big Oscarfest tonight.
It is certainly one of the darkest films I have seen. It clearly reinforces the notion that most of this year's big films have been downers. The acting is superb all around.
Without Paul Giamatti in the race, the Best actor is going to come down to Clint Eastwood or Jamie Foxx ("Ray").
I would not be unhappy with either choice. Or for that matter with my favorite, but I think hopeless cause of the evening, Don Cheadle in "Hotel Rwanda." But between Eastwood and Foxx my somewhat reluctant preference is for Eastwood (for the same reason that I would choose Virginia Madsen over Cate Blanchett for Best Supporting Actress). It seems to me that channeling a well-known personality like Ray Charles (as brilliantly as Foxx does it) or the equally wonderful job Blanchett does with Kate Hepburn is more of an acting trick or gimmick than a fully fleshed-out performance like Eastwood's or Madsen's.
Perhaps another way of saying this is that Eastwood and Madsen do much more with alot less to work with.
Although I still haven't seen Imelda Staunton ("Vera Drake"), it will be hard to beat Hillary Swank.
Morgan Freeman or Thomas Haden Church? Again a toss-up, but my vote (if I had one) would go to Freeman. If you want to see a performance without a false note, Freeman's is it.
So we come to best director: Martin Scorcese ("The Aviator") or Eastwood? If they give it to Scorcese it will be because they owe him for all the times they didn't. "The Aviator" is not a very good film. Although Scorcese did the best with what was there on the page, there wasn't much there.
Finally Best Picture. Since neither "Motorcycle Diaries" nor "Hotel Rwanda" were nominated, I would go with "Million Dollar Baby." How can you go wrong rewarding a movie that's hated by extreme right-wing film critic Michael Medved and his pals Rush Limbaugh and Rabbi Daniel Lapin.
One last word about the "Million Dollar Baby" controversy. I'm not at all sure that I would have made the same decision that was made by Eastwood's character, but a brief for euthanasia it ain't. It is certainly a legitimate choice within the Framework of the film, even if it wouldn't have been mine.
As Eastwood said to Frank Rich: "What do you have to give these people to make them happy?" I've often wondered that myself.

Saturday, February 26, 2005

Scary quote

In the Feb. 14/21 double issue of The New Yorker, Nicholas Lemann quotes Bill Keller-who replaced Howell Rains as New York Times executive editor:

Portraying conservatives fairly does not mean equal time for creationism.
But it does mean, for example, writing about abortion in a way that does
justice to the deep moral qualms most Americans have about it. It means
trying to understand the thinking of people who regard gay marriage as
unacceptable, who worry that gun controls represent an encroachment on
their civil liberties.

In other words, let's worry about the civil rights of gun owners, but not of gay people. We don't want to give equal time to creationism, but it's no problem to give it to homophobia.
When Lemann sub-titles his article "Why is everyone mad at the mainstream media?", I can't help but wonder why.

Michael Powell on John Negroponte

According to Unconventional Wisdom, Outgoing FCC Chair Michael Powell was overheard talking about National Intelligence Director nominee John Negroponte:

"Powell believes President Bush picked Negroponte because no one the White House wanted to do the job would do it, including Tommy Franks, who said, 'Hell no!' The job of National Intelligence Director cannot be done successfully. All Negroponte will do is 'sit around waiting for the bomb to go off' and then take the blame when it does."

Friday, February 25, 2005

When Bush Comes to Shove

Here's a notice about a New York City organizing conference sponsored by the youth division of Democratic Socialists of America. Without endorsing DSA or its youth division use your own judgment:
WHEN BUSH COMES TO SHOVE: Youth Organizing Against Right-Wing & Corporate Power
March 11-13
New York City

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Hunter S. Thompson

Hunter S Thompson's death has left a gaping hole in the ranks of American counter-culture.

Hunter S. Thompson

"Fear is just another word for ignorance"

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Lists, lists, lists

Ok! our penchant for lists has gone too far.
I can live with lists of the 100 most powerful people in Hollywood, the 50 richest people in the U.S. and even, reluctantly, the 100 hottest "babes".
But I think things have gone beyond reason with Parade magazine's "The World's 10 Worst Dictators."
I can't help but wonder if Teodoro Obiang Nguema of Equatorial Guinea is upset that he has been demoted from last year's 6th place ranking to #10 this year. And what about Omar al-Bashire of the Sudan who leapfrogged from #7 last year to #1 this year. Is he out celebrating?
What about those who didn't make this year's list, will they be more dictatorial, more deadly in order to make next year's list.

Monday, February 21, 2005

Women and sports

Check out this recent posting on "The Daily Dish."

DERBYSHIRE AWARD NOMINEE: "For those of us who believe we should train our daughters according to Titus 2, 1 Peter 3, and other Biblical passages, my answer is "Yes, it is not good." I propose that sports greatly hinders the development of godly, Biblical, feminine character. Parents today expend extraordinary amounts of time and energy taking their daughters from one sports event to another, week after week, even to the point where it exhausts the family and family resources. The fruits we see are that today's Christian women are often ill- prepared to be Biblically obedient wives and mothers. This brings to mind a couple of questions: "Why do we spend so much time preparing our daughters to play sports?" and "What does it prepare them for in the future?" My answer is that sports prepare women to be more like men. Instead of spending all that time preparing our daughters as the Bible directs, we are training them to be like men so they can better compete with men in traditionally masculine roles - i.e., compete with them in the workforce, in politics, in the military, and in sports." - Scott Jonas, in, outlining fundamentalist opposition to women in sports. No one should be under illusions that gays are not the only targets of some Christian fundamentalists. The freedom of women to live lives as they see fit is also anathema to these activists.- 4:38:00 PM

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

The Gates in Central Park

Sunday Ann and I went up to Central Park to see the Christo and Jeanne-Claude gates. Although I wasn't overwhelmed (I said to her: "You seen one saffron gate, you've seen them all), contrary to "Columnist of the Year" Andrea Peyser's ridiculous column (What is her problem?), they do add quite a lot of charm and excitement to a somewhat dreary period in the city. The Cow Parade, however, they ain't
If you're interested, one of the best views is from Belvedere Castle.
I took some photos, as soon as I learn how to get photos onto this blog, I'll post some.
I'm going to try to go back tomorrow (Tues.), when I hope it will be less crowded. More then.

Bush and the truth

The very Martha Stewart-like respect for truth that seems to pervade the Bush administration has once again been brought to the fore.
Thanks to Mediabistro for directing me to the Houston Chronicle article on "James Guckert, who used the Talon News byline 'Jeff Gannon,' [and] managed to get access to the White House on a daily basis for two years."
The Chronicle goes on to say: "The organization Guckert worked for turned out to be an arm of a partisan group, GOPUSA, a conservative Web site based in Houston and dedicated to 'spreading the conservative message throughout America.' It turns out Talon News was created only a few days before Guckert first applied for a White House daily pass."

Saturday, February 12, 2005

Pro Gay marriage decision in New York State

On Feb. 4, New York State Supreme Court Justice Doris Ling-Cohan ruled to compel New York City Clerk Victor Robles to issue five same-sex couples marriage licenses. Full story in Gay City News.
The decision has been appealed by the Bloomberg administration (although, in an attempt to straddle both sides of the fence, Bloomberg has said that he favors gay marriage).

Monday, February 07, 2005

Howard Dean, Democratic Party chair?

Well! all things being equal, it looks good for Gov. Howard Dean to become Chair of the Democratic Party on Saturday. However, don't forget how good it looked for the Yankees when they were up 3-0 against Boston in the playoffs.
But according to most observers (see Blog for America) it's pretty much a done deal.
What fascinates me is how negatively all the right-wing ideologs portray Dean's effect on the Party (check out Michael Goodwin in the New York Daily News).
If, in fact, he is going to be the "Dem Gravedigger," then why don't they shut-up and let it happen. Could it be that a real chair scares the hell out of them?
The fact is that these right-wing spokespeople want a Democratic Party that plays the role the Washington Generals have enacted for the Harlem Globetrotters. They need a team (party) who will make the process appear legitimate, but not one that will win.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

The 25 most influential evangelicals according to Time

Time Magazine has published its list of "The 25 most Influential Evangelicals in America."

Taking Time's comments with a grain of salt, the list is a useful reference.

A joke

A friend of ours sent us this joke. Enjoy.

Q: How many Bush Administration officials does it take to screw in a light bulb?

A: None. Why would you ask that?!
There is nothing wrong with the light bulb; its conditions are improving every day.
Any reports of a lack of incandescence are a delusional spin from the liberal media.
That light bulb has served honorably, and anything you say undermines the lighting effect.
Why do you hate freedom?

The Democrats' "Jesus moment"

In the same issue Time has also taken off from Sen.Hillary Clinton's rightward shift on abortion last week to comment on the "Jesus moment" for the Democrats.

It seems University of California, Berkeley-linguist George Lakeoff and "left-leaning"-evangelical-author, Jim Wallis, are advising the Democrats on how to reach out to right-wing voters.

This is, of course, another in a torrent of right-wing interventions in the upcoming election of a new Democratic National Committee Chair. These are largely attempts to head-off the election of Howard Dean to that post.